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Cheap eats

Saint James Place is a classic cool, dark bar with plenty of TVs, a pool table and a raised platform for a band. But the owner has worked up an interesting menu and put some competent people in the kitchen. On the weekend afternoon we visited, we picked a table on the edge of the main room, next to an open garage door that led to a fenced-in patio. A pleasant breeze wafted in as we studied the menu, which offered everything from soup and chili to salads, sandwiches, hot and cold subs, burgers, wings, pizza and dinners, including a Friday night fish fry.

We'd already heard about the Fat Boy -- a 16-inch round of what seemed to be pizza crust, cooked, stuffed with ingredients and folded in half like a massive pita sandwich. It was $10.75, but we knew it would satisfy two.

We'd chosen a little table for four, and when the server came over with place settings and extra napkins, he suggested we pull up another table, which we did, laughing. (That's how you know you've ordered a lot of food!) And sure enough, the steak Fat Boy needed room. Served on a platter, it was filled with a nice portion of thin-shaved steak, and it could have fed three people.

Dan ordered a Stinger, an unusual hot sub made with both chicken fingers and steak ($4.75 for a half, $8.50 for a whole). The Stinger's sub roll was fresh and nicely toasted, and Dan found the meat combination interesting and good.

I ordered a chicken finger half-sub ($4.75) with the fingers mild and found them moist and meaty, with a crunchy crust, but more medium than mild.

There was a special on wings -- 25 cents each -- and we ordered 10. They were large and plump, cooked through without being dry. We found that the heat inflation carried over to our wings, too -- ordered medium, we judged them to be on the hot side. Nobody was complaining, because there was plenty of blue cheese and celery and carrot sticks to douse the fire, but we'll keep this in mind in the future.

John ordered the one-third-pound Angus sirloin Backstop burger ($6; half-pound burger for $6.75), and it was hand-formed and tasted beefy. The fries, served on the side with the subs and burger, looked hand-cut and were nicely fried, if not as sizzling hot as they could have been.

Two boxes took the extra food home, and it was lunch the next day.

-- Anne Neville

***

Saint James Place

1531 Military Road, Kenmore

874-4122

Review: 3 1/2 pennies (Out of 4)

"Good menu, value."

Saint James Place's kitchen is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. It is handicapped-accessible.

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